While talking about ds106 this summer with my teacher ed students, I described how I wished to complete the five seconds five films one archetype assignment with a mashup of Rocky’s distictive ‘Yo Adrian’ across the six Rocky films.
I’d recently re-watched Rocky which was released in 1976 when I was age five. I somehow watched that film in the theatre (no VHS yet) probably at a 99 cent showing. But I vividly remember going the see the sequel for a Thanksgiving showing, waiting two hours in the rain to see Rocky II.
There were probably a few hundred people in the theatre (yes movies did attract real crowds, imagine that) and when the open titles started with the end of fight from Rocky, the audience literally erupted in cheers. Can you imagine that now? An audience applauding a movie as it starts?
I originally expected this mashup of Rocky’s ‘Yo Adrian’ to be a comical rendition. But in retrospect I shouldn’t be surprised that it turned out to be so sentimental. The best of Stallone as Rocky is ultimately about his relationship with Adrian. Yes the fights and winning and winning and winning are fun (expected), but it’s his relationship with Adrian that really changes through the films.
In Rocky I, it’s so much about their courtship which is frankly goofy. Remember when Adrian’s brother Paulie throws the Thanksgiving turkey out the window for no apparent reason? It leads to the first, ‘Yo Adrian, it’s me Rocky’ moment as he talks to her through the door. And the sentimentality continues in Rocky II with probably the most famous ‘Yo Adrian’ after defeating Apollo Creed.
In Rocky III (Clubber Lang – I pity the fool) and Rocky IV (Drago – I must break you) there’s no ‘Yo Adrian.’ They’ve become a celebrity couple with money so such expressions are crass I guess.. But Rocky still looks to and needs Adrian more than ever. The almost comical standoff between them on a beach in LA in Rocky III may hammer the nail too hard, but it’s really classic ‘Yo Adrian.’
The finale of the Rocky series which carried too long for sure, cover Rocky’s decline. In Rocky V (Tommy Gunn – I’m nobody’s puppet) he’s a punched-in-the-head-to-many-times pantomime of himself from the first two movies. All the sophistication that came with wealth in III and IV is literally stripped away (is it so impossible to imagine a superstar athlete would piss away their fortune). And in Rocky VI (Balboa) he’s trying to live a life without Adrian. In these films ‘Yo Adrian’ returns as a sentimental statement, remembering the goofy loving couple they originally were.
Though Rocky is of course first remembered as a boxing movie about a ‘puncher’s chance,’ it’s really a schmaltzy love story. Creed, Clubber, Drago, Gunn, and whoever the hell Rocky fought in VI are fun, but ‘YO ADRIAN’ is 4LIFE.